Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest? By Mark Jones. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing,
Mark Jones is the pastor of a PCA church in Canada. Since those in the Free Grace movement are often accused of being antinomian, the title of this book caught my eye.
This book, however, does not address the contemporary scene. Instead, it deals with how Reformed theologians dealt with antinomianism after the Reformation. There is a particular emphasis on the seventeenth century. The author spends a great deal of time on how the writers of the Westminster Confession and the Puritans dealt with the various problems concerning this topic.
Jones says that antinomianism is a very complex issue. It comes in many forms. In all these forms there is an error in Christology. Antinomians emphasize the imputed righteousness of Christ at the expense of how He lived His earthly life as well as His high priestly ministry.
One of the primary ways antinomianism manifested itself in history is a denial that the Christian is under the moral law of the Old Covenant. But Jones lists at least nine other ways, some subtle, in which antinomianism expresses itself (pp. 7-9). These include how one sees predestination, arguing that works are not necessary for eternal salvation, or whether the assurance of our justification can be discerned by our sanctification (pp. 4-5). He recognizes that antinomianism does not necessarily equate to a sinful lifestyle.
The issue is also complex because sometimes theologians who opposed antinomianism did not use their words with caution. Luther and John Cotton both said things that led some to conclude they were antinomian. In the case of Luther, Jones says the Reformer simply used strong rhetoric to argue against the Catholic Church. We must interpret the words of these past theologians in the context they were uttered.
A couple of the chapters provoked my interest. Chapter two is entitled, “The Imitation of Christ,” and deals with sanctification. Jones says that antinomians saw sanctification as being
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completely the work and responsibility of Christ. Jones refers to this as “immediate” sanctification. The orthodox Reformed theologians said the believer has a role, because the believer retains his or her own will. The Holy Spirit infuses grace in the believer so that he or she is now empowered to act in a holy way. Jones calls this “inherent” sanctification (pp. 25-26).
Chapter five is entitled “Good Works and Rewards.” Jones says that the antinomians denied that God...
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